If you’ve been attending Pilates classes for a while, you’ll know your Pilates practice is always a work in progress. So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned Pilates-ista here are 5 simple ways you can shake up your Pilates practice.
1.Be More Present
Blah de blah – buzzword – blah! I don’t mean go all existential. I mean be present in your class and in your workout.
Believe me I know when you have a gazillion things on your mind it is hard to focus on the present BUT there is nothing you can do about any of those things in the confines of your class. AND, given you’ve permitted yourself a time out AND you’ve possibly had to arrange childcare or a prompt departure from work, you owe it to yourself to make the most of your time out. Sorry for coming over a bit SHOUTY about that.
Why think about buying onions, whether your baby has a tummy bug or has just eaten too many pears, or tomorrow’s pitch when you’d be better off switching off? Research shows we need to do something creative or active to re-set our brain’s amygdala when it’s got all bogged down by routine and ‘stuff’.
So come into class, focus on how your body feels and how the moves feel.
Instead of thinking to yourself, ‘when will this exercise be over – I hate this one’ ask how to do it more effectively or why you’re struggling with it. Be conscious of your strengths and weaknesses and enjoy the fact that you’re moving your body.
Support your fellow participants.
Stress can wait at the door.
2. Work on your mobility between classes
Some exercises require an increase in strength to perform well but most start with mobility. This is because you’ll be limiting your range of movement or a muscle’s ability to function if you are tight through certain joints.
Consider a gentle hip mobility workout to ensure your spine and pelvis have a happy working relationship.
What about your feet and toes? Sometimes those cramps that stop you mid swan dive could be averted if your feet weren’t quite so knotted.
And then of course there’s your spine, which loves to twist, stretch, reach and extend. Most of us could do with a good old mobility workout through the spine.
Of course we do a lot of this in class, but you can maximise your class time by spending a few minutes a day at home working on your mobility.
3. Change Your Perspective!
Ooh! Controversial. Yes I’m suggesting that you try a different class or even a different instructor. This might mean attending an exhibition were you can do a Pilates workshop or perhaps seeking out a class when you’re on holiday or travelling with work.
One of my class participants recently tried Pilates in Singapore. She wasn’t keen (partly because of the uncomfortable bamboo mats and extreme levels of seriousness) but she did notice their focus on breath. Even if you hate the way a different instructor teaches, you will absolutely learn something new from them.
Of course you don’t always have to go to a different instructor. You could try switching your classes for a week or attend a a workshop where you can go deeper. It might even be time to invest in a couple of private sessions so you can really work out how you can progress your practice.
4. Learn the moves
I know you are in class to do Pilates but learning the moves can really make a difference to your confidence and allow you to get more flow in your class. If you know what the move is by name, you don’t have to stop, look and wonder. You already know!
Plus if you really get to know the moves you’ll begin to understand their focus and feel which helps when it comes to practising them.
5. Do more Pilates
I know. It sounds obvious. And it’s quite probable that one class a week is about the limit of how much time you can afford but if you can fit an extra class in, brilliant. An online class or your own workout at home is a great start.
As with all learning, consistency is key. If you travel a lot with work, have contingency in place (can you find a Pilates class where you’re going or can you take a workout downloaded onto your smart phone). Even a swim, dancing or a yoga class would complement your practice, so don’t be afraid to do something new.
To try Karen’s online Pilates class check out the taster class on the Pilates pages for more class information.